1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 22-28 of 33 Articles
Professor Anne Curzan of the University of Michigan studies the history of English. "I have a great job," she says, one where she challenges people to rethink their ideas of how language works. In addition to teaching, she co-edits the respected Journal of English Linguistics and is also on the usage panel of the The American Heritage Dictionary. We had a fascinating and wide-ranging conversation with her about the history of English, medieval language, gender in language and more. Our conversation was so intriguing we broke it into two parts. Here's part one: Continue reading...
Language authority Charles Harrington Elster is the "Grandiloquent Gumshoe," a word sleuth who gives no quarter to pompous usage and other tomfoolery. The author of The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations and What in the Word?, Charles is also a seasoned radio commentator and, as he says, "a fellow woolgatherer in the world of words." We had a lively discussion with him about language, usage -- and where he draws the line. Continue reading...
We're foraging in the Lounge this month and don't even need to visit the Language Larder to do so; all the food is at our fingertips. Continue reading...

The next time a language usage brouhaha has you ready to scream, come to blows or file for divorce -- wait! Cool down and contact Barbara Wallraff. The author of The Atlantic's popular Word Court and Word Fugitives columns and a weekly syndicated columnist for King Features, Barbara has been sorting out thorny language questions -- and occasionally saving marriages -- for over a quarter century. She's also written three terrific books on the subject: Word Fugitives, Your Own Words and Word Court. We had a lively talk with Barbara about usage, the role of dictionaries and the hidden power of Google:

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Fancy yourself a fashionista? Check out this fashion word list compiled by Jennifer Smith, former New York fashion designer now copywriter/PR pro for Deuce Creative. You'll be surprised by some of Seventh Avenue's parts of speech. Read on to sharpen your divaspeak...

Look. (noun) "Complete outfit, ensemble from head to toe including accessories and shoes. The number of outfits you send down the runway is equivalent to the number of looks in a fashion show."

Fitting. (noun) "Review of garments on a live model. Fit, proportion, make and details assessed. Changes are made to garments and patterns based on notes from a fitting."

Tchotchke. (noun) (from Yiddish) "Extraneous detail or treatment on a garment, often used negatively. An excess of novelty is often referred to as tchochke. Example: 'The dress appeared fussy, covered in ruffled tchochke.'"

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Topics: Vocabulary Fun Words
This month the Loungeurs enter the hurly-burly of one of language's more perplexing questions: why it always feels nice to say it twice. Continue reading...

Dept. of Word Lists

Clothing Design Words

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Designing clothes isn't just a leisurely prance down the catwalk: It's art and industry with its very own, often technical, language. The words themselves may seem familiar to us non-designers, but the meanings are anything but. We called New York fashion designer Mary Ping to help us decipher this particular tongue. ( The dress on the left is from a recent collection.)

Grain "Refers to the direction of the threads of a fabric. When fabric is woven you have a warp and a weft. The warp are yarns that run parallel to the loom, the weft are yarns that run perpendicular."

Shuttle "A tool on a loom to pass yarn through warp to form the weft."

Bias "The diagonal direction of yarn. You have yarns running vertically, yarns running horizontally -- the warp and the weft -- and the bias is the 45 degree angle between those two. It gives fabric a natural stretch. When people refer to a "bias-cut dress" it means the entire fabric is placed on the biased grain, or direction. So the dress has a tendency to cling to your body more, because it's stretching out more."

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Topics: Vocabulary Words
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